DolphinChristchurch based three piece featuring Failsafe's Rob Mayes - Bass / Guitar, Kevin Stokes - Guitar /Vocals, and Stephen Birss - Drums.

The band was formed out of the ashes of 1986 - 87 band Heartland featuring all three members. Birss and Stokes going on to work on My Wild Violet, with Mayes eventually rejoining the band in early 1988. The band performed under various names before settling on Dolphin, including support slots for Bailterspace and JPSE before Mayes left for a world tour as the Bats Sound Engineer.

Just prior to Mayes' May departure the band recorded 5 songs, one (When I Touch You) being included on the band's first release, the Hold Touch EP, in late 1988 (the rest appear on the 2005 collection EPs). Both Mayes and Stokes were local sound engineers and the band recorded and produced all their own work.

Mayes also designed all the bands artwork and released and distributed their material on his own label Failsafe Records.

Lead track 'If Only I Could Hold You (Once Again)' making NZ playlists and charts including national television's "CV Campus Radio Chart". This song also features on the Pagan Records 'alternative' compilation "Positive Vibrations"; Dolphin's first and only vinyl appearance.

The band's music has been described as Jagged-edged Pop, a label the band don't disagree with, basing their songs on melody and power.

Initially the band was heavily influenced by Husker Du, (especially songs penned by Stokes, a big fan of them), Jesus and Mary Chain and Echo And The Bunnymen.
Stokes was a strong guitarist after a long history of guitaring, starting at age 14 in Timaru rock bands including the ominously-titled Sacred Morgue, and Dawn Patrol. Stokes was technically skilled and fluent in many styles of guitaring, which he completely unlearnt to approach his work with Dolphin, developing his own strongly chord-based style, incorporating melodic lead lines played simultaneously over the top of chords, sounding like 2 guitarists and producing a hefty wall of sound.

Birss and Mayes were both big fans of the British underground and alternative scene and had worked together in many previous bands. Mayes' writing style was often darker and more rhythm-based, but with strong and emotive melodic lines. Mayes used lots of bass chords, and strummed his bass like a guitar. Mayes later incorporated full-on bass chords with distortion, adding to Dolphin's reputation as a 'Wall Of Sound' pop band.

The second Cassingle 'Promise' was released in February of 1988 and contained four songs recorded at Christchurch's Audio Access Studios on 8 track. (all available on the EPS CD reissue)

Drummer Birss temporarily left the band after group tension made it difficult for them to continue working together. He was replaced with Shane Bolingford (Pleasure Boys, Breathing Cage) originally from Gisborne. Shane drummed with Dolphin for 3 months but by mutual consent Birss returned to the bands drumming stool.

Dolphin embarked on a short nationwide tour including 2 shows in Dunedin, followed by a trip to Auckland on the 15 - 16th of December with Catherine Wheel in tow, playing The Venue (a club managed by now famous ator Russell Crow).

Live the band made use of slide projection visuals and the band became known for their giant slide shows, featuring Mayes' widescreen abstract images.

Dolphin's third Cassingle 'Anything At All' was released in late 1989 featuring another 4 songs.

In February of 1990 the band embarked on the recording of their first album, building a purpose-built studio in the local horticultural hall. The band flew out American engineer / producer Andrew Speigelman (personal friend of Stokes and a freelance engineer at Hendrix-built Electric Ladyland studios in NYC) to record the band so Stokes and Mayes could concentrate on their playing. Speigelman turned out to know less than Mayes and Stokes about recording live rock music.

The band played a few national dates touring with Speigelman as engineer, including a date at Wellington's Car Park Venue and a Toga Party at Palmerston North's Massey University orientation festival, where Speigelman took on truly Spinal Tap proportions, slightly in contrast to the bands more reserved Christchurch manner.

This continued amusingly during the initial setup of the studio including some bizarre tales of Speigelman picking up young Christchurch lasses and entertaining them on the studio's mixing desk.

Speigelmen's antics eventually caused strain with the dedicated and serious Dolphin. Speigelman spent 5 out of the 7 tracking days working on getting a viable drum sound with the band tracking all of their songs in one 12 hour session.

After the tracking session Speigelman returned to America, and Mayes and Stokes carried on to finish the recordings, building another studio at the Arts Centre; the Horticultural Hall being scheduled for demolition within days of the first sessions completion.

The band completed and mixed most of the 22 tracks they undertook to record, but delays with touch-up recording and mixing saw the album left unfinished. Stokes and wife left for a planned spell in the UK in October 1990, Stokes seeking to expand on his career in sound engineering. The plan was for Mayes to complete recording and mixing the album and the band would continue at a later date. The album was not completed until April of 1995, Mayes being sidetracked by his work with subsequent groups Throw and Springloader and his work on the Failsafe label.

The band released a double CD containing the material they had started in 1990, and Stokes returned temporarily to perform one show in support of the release.

Birss returned as drummer for the third time, and the band found they clicked on all cylinders, writing new material in the 3 rehearsals before their performance at Quadraphenia nightclub in Christchurch. The band presented an impressive set of live energy pop, and the set was videoed, spawning 3 videos for tracks Miss, No Question, and Tell You Tomorrow.

Mayes' other band Springloader played their last Christchurch gig in support of Dolphin.

The band recorded another five songs before Stokes returned to London and Mayes and Birss planned to join Stokes in London to pursue their music together.

Mayes and Birss completed one more session of recordings before Mayes departure to take over rhythm tracks for Stokes and Mayes to work on while awaiting the arrival of Birss.

Mayes closed down his Failsafe label operations in NZ and moved to London in October of that year, where Stokes and Mayes slowly worked on finishing the recording of new material. In February they had completed 4 songs to demo level and started shopping for a label deal by sending out cassettes to London-based labels.

In April 1996 Stokes and Mayes were working on material for Mayes' band Throw at a Richmond-based studio the owner of which turned out to be Pete Thomas, drummer for Elvis Costello's Attractions. He particularly liked the sound of the music they were working on and offered to play percussion on any material they wished.

Through commitments to his family Birss was unable to make the risky move to London and so Dolphin were left drummer-less. They took Thomas up on his drumming offer and the band planned to demo 7 new songs with him. Scheduled between sessions for the hugely successful Sheryl Crow album, a Suzanne Vega tour and album, and his work with the new Elvis Costello album, Thomas agreed to record drums for the lowly 3 piece from Christchurch New Zealand, in his own studio, effectively waiving his usually sizeable performance fee and the studio fee as well.

Stokes commitment to his studio day job meant he was unable to attend the two day recording session, leaving Mayes to engineer and produce the new songs with Thomas. They completed 6 tracks including the song Heatseeking. The 7th track eventually ending up as side project Astro64's 'Wasting It On You'.

Over the next few months Dolphin continued to work on their recordings adding guitars and writing lyrics. They then sent out a series of 5 demo cassettes, each containing 2 or more songs, to various London-based labels and A&R people, most of which never got listened to.

The band spent time auditioning and searching for a suitable drummer to replace Birss full time, Pete Thomas being interested but unable to fit it into his schedule. After months of auditioning the worst drummers either member had ever come across Mayes and Stokes decided to perform their songs to a backing tape of the drums from material they had recorded so far.

They secured the support slot to Australian band TISM's Mean Fiddler London gig, and performed a set of their heavy melodic power pop to a confused audience, looking for the drummer or drum machine.

In October the band auditioned American drummer Tracy Thompkins. At age 22 Tracy had very little experience in rock bands, her main experience being in a marching band and later in a generic college basement band. She could however hit drums with attitude, and so in lieu of other suitable drummers, and the expanding length of time it was taking the band to be able to show London what made them so successful in New Zealand it was decided to take on Thompkins and work her up to the band's level.

Mayes & Thompkins rehearsed for the next few weeks then as a band rehearsed for another 2 months and performed their first gig at the splash club - Camden Falcon with other ex-NZers Tongue (Julie Dolphin) in support. One further slot was played at The Orange in West Kensington before the band decided to change their name due to a number of London-based bands having the word dolphin in their name.

Dolphin became Delphy.

Delphy comes from the song title "Julie Delphy's Eyes", a song about mass obsession toward the elite few, in this case an imaginary case of American youths obsession with the French film star.
The band had already called themselves Delphy before they discovered that there is no H in the stars name, thus the band are named after a spelling mistake and shall probably never get the chance to meet the French film star.

In May 1997 Delphy performed the first in their last set of London gigs, drummer Thompkins having to return to the US because her visa to stay in the UK had run out.
The band were hoping to finally get one of the many A&R representatives from the contacted record labels to actually show up at a gig so they could get on with the business of making music.
They played probably their best London show at the Bull And Gate at the end of May 1997, followed by a slot in early June at Camden's Dublin Castle. Both gigs were well attended but not by the record industry. One final show was played at the Finsbury Park Powerhaus, and the band entered the studio to record 5 new songs written while drummer Thompkins was in the band. Four of these tracks would appear on the bands soon to be released EP.

The band decided to perform a tour of the East Coast of America due to Thompkins having to return to the States and Mayes wishing to take a break from the UK.
Many people who saw Delphy play their London show commented that they had an American edge to their music, probably a spin off of the earlier Husker Du influence.

In August of 1997 the band self-release the mini album "Heatseeking", to be used primarily as a demo for American record labels.
The CD contained 4 songs from the most recent sessions with Thompkins on drums, and one song each from the sessions with Pete Thomas and Steve Birss.

A nine date tour was arranged for the end of October and early November.

The band performed the series of nine dates on a shoestring budget starting in New York and taking in Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, Hoboken NJ, and Hokassen, Thompkins home town.

The virtually unknown band played successful sets to the hugely impressed audiences who had happened into the venues more or less by chance. The tour ended with gigs in Boston's TT The Bears and lastly at influential New York Venue Brownies, where a couple of A&R types were to attend.

The band were in luck this time as a US music lawyer, (the American equivalent of a talent agent), attended the gig, and suitably impressed by the bands performance agreed to act on the band's behalf in securing a record contract. He considered a USD$200,000 deal likely.

Stokes had to return to London to continue his day job as studio engineer but on a high after the successful tour was committed to continuing working with the band. A second series of American concerts were needed to secure a record deal via the music lawyer and these were tentatively scheduled for the American spring in April, allowing the band to recoup some energy, Mayes and Thompkins journeying to New Zealand to continue work and rest, Stokes to London to resume his sole source of income.

A highlight for Mayes and Thompkins, (both committed fans of the British band The Cure) was meeting Robert Smith after their November 1997 Philadelphia show, after Thompkins in a particularly American turn decided to 'stalk' the band to their hotel from the concert.
Smith was presented with a copy of the band's CD which contained a contact email address for the band. A month later the band received an email from Smith congratulating them on their music and enquiring about the band's future plans.

The follow up tour did not happen with Stokes remaining in London.

Mayes and Thompkins returned to New York to recruit a new singer in the hope of continue with their music, but a suitable replacement could not be found.

Delphy completed a further 12 tracks including the and aptly titled "Cave Me In" from the band's sessions with Thompkins drumming.

These tracks were released as the "Bring It All Down" album in April 2005.

Stokes followed on with his job at River Studios in London then moved to work in subtitling. He now plays in Souther Still with fellow NZers in london. They have 2 albums.

Rob Mayes returned to Christchurch New Zealand where he runs a digital recording studio, and continues to work on music projects, notably his "solo" project Astro64 and his band projects Springloader and Throw, and more recently Eskimo.

The retrospective EPs album was released in 2005 alongside a demos and rarities album "Listen".
Also in 2005 EMI released a 2-CD set of important Christchurch bands, including the track 'If Only I Could Hold You (Once Again)'.
Birss and Mayes performed 2 songs at the launch party for the album with Hooster's Ed Loughnan filling in on vocals for Stokes.

In 2006 Japanese label Freshwater released a compilation of key tracks off the 4 albums called "Waiting For Splashdown".

The band are considering a few live shows sometime.....

Dolphin - Waiting For Splashdown "Waiting For Splashdown" compilation album   Dolphin - Bring It All Down
"EPs" compilation album "Listen" album (demos and rarities)
"Out Of Hand" album
"Finally Think It's Time" mini album (included with "Out Of Hand" album)
Dolphin - Any Thing At All "Anything At All" single (now included on the "EPs" album)
"Promise" single (now included on the "EPs" album)
Dolphin - Promise
Dolphin - Hold Touch "Hold Touch" single (now included on the "EPs" album)


Dolphin Myspace Page

Leave Comments About Dolphin :: Read Comments About Dolphin

Failsafe Records, P O Box 3003, Christchurch, New Zealand ::